Hudson's Bay Company Archives Microfilm Digitization

In November 2019, the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives completed a large-scale microfilm digitization project. This project was realized as part of the National Heritage Digitization Strategy with funding from the Hudson’s Bay Company History Foundation.

HBCA digitized 1052 reels of microfilm, encompassing over 10,000 volumes of the pre-1870 records kept at almost five hundred Hudson’s Bay Company posts.  The digitized records include post journals, incoming and outgoing correspondence and accounts kept at individual posts. They also include records kept at districts and departments overseeing the post activity.  These records include: lists of servants, accounts, reports, engagement registers, abstracts of servants’ accounts and minutes of council. These records were selected for this project because they are some of the most heavily accessed records held by HBCA.

How to find digitized microfilm on Keystone

Most researchers will find the digital files in the course of their research, embedded in Keystone, by searching for specific post records. However, researchers may also isolate these files by searching for them more directly:

  • To find individual records, search listings and enter “PDF” in the keyword field. This will bring up any individual records that have a PDF linked to the listing.

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Project Specifications

  • Scanning of the microfilm was outsourced to a local document imaging company
  • Scanning started in March 2018 and was completed in March 2019
  • Format of film – 35mm negatives
  • Resolution of initial scans – 600DPI
  • Access format - multi-page PDFs
  • Level of compression was considered in the process of converting the files, taking into account that the records on the microfilm are all pre-1870 and in various styles of cursive writing.

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Future Plans

At this time, HBCA has no plans for further large-scale microfilm digitization projects although digitization of select microfilm may happen.  Any microfilm digitized in future will be added to the Keystone database. Contact HBCA if you have any questions.

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